From sensitisation programmes to celebrating their queer employees and giving queer artistes a platform to voice opinions, organisations tend to go the extra mile to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community during the Pride Month. Post that though, most of these initiatives vanish till it’s Pride Month again. Many corporates in India have adopted diverse and inclusive practices at work to reduce the bias towards queer employees, but experts point out that Pride Month tokenism and pinkwashing, where the company says it's an LGBTQIA+ ally but acts in contrast to the commitment, can hardly help in bringing any effective changes for the queer community.

‘Celebrate Pride beyond the Pride Month’

KPMG in India has partnered with the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival to host the screenings of select queer films at their offices. Besides they are organising focused discussions with Rainbow Parents, a support group for parents of LGBTQ+ children, to help change the mindsets of fellow parents towards the community.

“Celebrating Pride need not be limited to the Pride Month alone. A vital part of inclusion is to bring awareness about intersectionality in everything that we do. An example of that was the Pride Walks across our offices in September last year, which we continue to do this year too"

- Sunit Sinha, Partner and Head, People, Performance & Culture, KPMG

‘Being vocal needs to be followed with actions’

If the efforts are limited to the Pride Month, then it is a job half done. Ajinkya Patil, a marketing strategist and queer person, explains, “If the companies are not sensitising their employees, not helping them medically or financially, or actively hiring and offering higher positions to queer persons, then the Pride celebrations are just a sham.”

"While Pride Month celebrations and branding is great for companies to build awareness and brand themselves as inclusive organisations, if it is not followed up with hiring initiatives or other supportive actions, they can be easily called out as 'pinkwashing’ the subject"

- Nirmala Menon, Founder & CEO of Interweave Consulting, which provides DEI consulting to firms

Walk the talk to avoid tokenism

The conversation around diversity and inclusion at workspace has picked up pace but walking the talk by providing gender-neutral washrooms, medical and financial aid, education programs, regular sensitisation workshops, and equity remains crucial.

"As organisations, creating an equitable space starts with normalising the conversation about queer persons, accepting the community, and advocating for them at the workplace"

- Anurita Seymour, Employee Experience Lead and LGBT+ Co-Lead, India, Fidelity International

Steps to overcome tokenism

  • Implement DEI policies
  • Amplify and elevate queer voices
  • Collaborate with LGBTQ+ organisations and individuals to address systemic issues
  • Invest in education and awareness programs
  • Hold leadership accountable for tangible results

People can tell whether you are making a genuine effort or just engaging in activities to capitalise Pride Month. I clearly tell organisations that I consult, that if you want to bring tangible change, you must commit to comprehensive solutions which include hiring, sensitisation and representation from the queer community

-Parmesh Shahani, consultant and author

“From relevant health and insurance benefits to therapy provisions and support along with an option to update their pronouns within our intranet, we are empowering individuals to freely express their identity in a way that resonates with their true selves

- Krishna Raghavan, Chief People Officer, Flipkart

Faux allyship, which involves showing support only during Pride Month, can do more harm than good to D&I initiatives. It also hinders the efforts of genuine allies who work actively to promote inclusivity

-Sandeep Budhiraja, Co-Founder, Executive Director, Chief People Officer, BYLD Group

The quote was published in Times of India in June 2023.

The opinions expressed are author's own. Fidelity International is not responsible for the author's opinions.